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Ministry deplores RFA report on EBA

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Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn. Post Pix

Ministry deplores RFA report on EBA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Friday deplored as fake news a Radio Free Asia (RFA) report that it had received a copy of the European Commission’s assessment on the human rights situation in Cambodia as part of the Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement withdrawal procedure.

The EU launched the procedure for a possible withdrawal of EBA on February 12, citing “a deterioration of democracy [and] respect for human rights” in Cambodia.

The commission completed its report last Tuesday after a three-month investigation that ended on August 12 and has given the government one month to respond.

It said a final decision whether to suspend the agreement will be made by February next year.

Last week, RFA claimed to have received a copy of the report from unidentified government officials.

The report, it said, showed that the government had failed to restore human rights and democracy and that the EU might decide to suspend Cambodia’s EBA status.

In a statement released on Friday, the ministry said RFA had the intention of spreading false information to mislead the public, especially garment workers. It accused the radio station of acting as a mouthpiece for a political faction.

“As per diplomatic practices, and the requirements of the EU Commission, the report is treated as a confidential document. The Royal Government of Cambodia regrets and deplores the fact that RFA has purposely provided false information with intent to deceive the public about the EU Commission’s report.

“Its reference to the terms of paragraphs presented as quotations that were supposedly taken from the said report is not accurate.

“Such false information creates unnecessary worries among hundreds of thousands of workers involved, misleads the public and tarnishes the reputation of the government officials whom RFA claimed to have leaked the document.

“Once again, RFA’s action provides proof that it is not a credible source of information, but simply a propaganda station at the service of a political faction,” said the statement.

The ministry continued that in compliance with the commission’s procedure, relevant ministries and institutions will conduct a thorough review of the report before making an official response within one month.

The government’s response, it said, will contain updates of recent developments in the areas of concern raised by the EU.

Political analyst Em Sovannara said RFA should either broadcast a correction if the report was false as stated by the government or provide evidence to deny claims that it took sides with an opposition faction.

“Journalists here or abroad should just make corrections if their report is false. In the case of RFA, it can provide proof that its report was balanced to avoid being accused of taking sides or putting the burden on the government,” he said.

The Post could not reach RFA for comment on Sunday.

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